Midway Television Productions Focuses on Today and Tomorrow

New company helps sports-content creation and transition to new workflows

Midway Television Productions, a new production company led by John McCrae, who spent 38 years in various roles at CBS Sports, is officially open for business. McCrae looks to help sports-content creators more easily produce events today while transitioning to the workflows of tomorrow.

John McCrae

“My strong point has always been logistics and paying attention to details,” he says, noting his experience in everything from remote tech management to crew management, logistics, and even drawing up contracts with remote-production-services providers. “And with things like REMI productions, the role of the tech manager becomes crucial to make sure things are taken care of so that video, audio, and communications are interfaced between home base and the remote location.”

McCrae joined CBS in 1979, starting out in the graphics department, where he helped transition graphics from film to character generators. He then transitioned into studio technical management and, in 1983, moved to the CBS field shop, beginning a love for remote operations. In 1998, he transitioned to managing the tech managers and the productions but still made sure to be in the field for three or four shows a year.

His top goal at Midway Productions is to continue to tap into his passion but to also make available his other skills, such as helping translate technical issues for non-technical personnel like finance and management, who, increasingly, play a role in the technical decisions made.

“Consulting with manufacturers is another opportunity. There is a need for vendor representatives to quickly become familiar with the operations side as opposed to just the technical side,” he explains. “Everyone needs to understand the processes.”

The explosion of sports production has created new financial and operational challenges for all, and more and more productions are looking to travel fewer people to an event and, instead, to produce from a centralized facility. That, says McCrae, opens up more demand for those with his skill set.

“The tech manager becomes the focus of the operation because the director and producer are not onsite,” he explains. “The tech manager becomes the leader and is critical because, with REMI, things like comms and audio become much more complicated and granular.”

There is also the need to ensure that all involved understand the limitations of not having a lot of spare equipment on hand to adjust to last-minute demands and also to ensure that everyone both at the venue and at the home facility understands the new realities.

Says McCrae, “You need to bridge that philosophy gap and get everyone on the same page and to manage expectations.”

With Midway Television Productions, he is looking to help close that gap.

McCrae can be reached at jcmccrae@verizon.net or via phone at 732-241-0670.

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